Gita Daily Readings

18th April
Chapter Five: 1-3
Arjuna said: Renunciation of all actions, Oh Krishna, thou praisest, and again yoga. Tell me conclusively that which is the better of the two.

The blessed Lord said: Renunciation and the yoga of action, both lead to the highest bliss. But, of the two, the yoga of action is superior to the renunciation of action.

He should be known as a perpetual renunciate who neither hates nor desires. For, free from the pairs of opposites, Oh Arjuna, he is easily set free from bondage.

Commentary

The confusion arose over a misunderstanding of verse forty-one of the previous chapter! The word samnyasa meant (and means even now to the narrow-minded, orthodox bigot) giving up of all activities and enjoyments. Enjoyment was supposed to cause attachment and action provided the fuel to keep the wheel of karma revolving. To talk of samnyasa and activity in the same breath was obviously a contradiction in their eyes.

The famous story of queen Cudala in the Yoga Vasishta brings out the kernel of renunciation graphically. Renunciation should be of that which is "mine." Worldly objects belong to the world; renouncing them would be like the beggar in South India renouncing his claims to the throne of England: they do not exist! Attachment to worldly activities may be replaced by attachment to so-called spiritual activities, with no real spiritual benefit! If a king enjoys his cup of wine, a mendicant might sip a cup of milk with equal pleasure! Patanjali warns us that even the 'bliss' of savikalpa samadhi is an extremely subtle substitute for sense-pleasure. Real renunciation is abandonment of egoistic acceptance and rejection, love and hatred, likes and dislikes. Real renunciation is renunciation of the only thing that "belongs to me" viz., ignorance, the foolish ideas of 'I' (in relation to the body) and 'mine' (in relation to the objects of the world).

Longing and aversion both spring from false values. By giving both up one is freed from their bondage while remaining active.

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